Rainbow Moon is a well thought out love letter by SideQuest Studios to all things great about the old school RPG. In a world where the role playing genre of video games push the boundaries of gameplay and visuals, Rainbow Moon sticks with the simplistic, yet enduring gaming elements of years past. First released in 2012 for the PlayStation 3 and seeing a second release in in 2013 on the PlayStation Vita, this third release on the PlayStation 4 combines an easy to learn, yet tricky to master strategic combat system, quirky and bright visuals and a strong soundtrack makes Rainbow Moon a game worth checking out. Unfortunately, don’t expect the plot or characters to be spellbinding, an element that was very disappointing to see.
Rainbow Moon centres around the hero Baldren. Baldren is sent to Rainbow Moon after travelling in his world for a duel. As he travels through this dimensional rift, scores of monsters follow him, disturbing the peace of Rainbow Moon. Baldren’s task is simple; defeat the monsters that plague Rainbow Moon and find a way to return home. It’s a very simplistic plot and it’s shoved in the background. It’s basically setting up a reason to traverse Rainbow Moon. With that said, many older RPG’s featured a simplistic plot. The earlier Final Fantasy games come to mind, which usually features activating crystals or defeating an empire. Don’t expect any character development either. The character of Baldren can be given any name the player desires and the other party members add more to the strategic side of the combat system, yet have little personality themselves.
But the story isn’t the reason to play Rainbow Moon. It’s in the combat system. SideQuest Studios designed a strategic turn based combat system playing out on a grid like field. Combat is initiated via two gameplay elements: touching an enemy in the exploration field or by confirming a prompt which pops out randomly. Once in battle, the player can deploy up to three characters (once they have a party of three) and will control their character once it’s their turn. In an interesting element which adds to strategy, SideQuest Studios introduced sub-turns, which increases the amount of actions a character can partake during their turn. Abilities are available to learn for each character and they level up with use. Honestly, it’s a fantastic combat system. The amount of enemies and their type plays a major role in combat. Knowing the enemy well means the player can deploy their best units out to battle. They must not only think during their turn but also the next set of turns and beyond. While not as deep as other strategic RPG, it’s still an entertaining, thought provoking and fun battle system to play with.
The gameplay doesn’t stop at combat. The field, viewed from an isometric point of view, is where all of the player’s exploring takes place. In the field, the player can buy items, weapons, armour, find treasure, engage in enemies and level their character up. In Rainbow Moon, grinding is nicely rewarded with Rainbow Pearls, dropped by enemies. While characters also gain experience points and level up, the player will need the pearls to increase base strength, speed, defense and luck. Health and mana are also an option for the brave, but HP and MP are increased as characters level up. It’s an intriguing element to the game and plays to the combat system perfectly as the player decides what attribute needs to be increased for the upcoming battles. Rainbow Coins are the currency of Rainbow Moon and can be used to purchase items and gear. To further strengthen the characters, certain items can be fused with weapons and armour to add stat bonuses to the character.
Of course, no RPG is made up of the main plot. Side quests are littered throughout the game and vary in its objectives. The player may need to fetch a certain item or killing an enemy. There are also dungeons throughout the game, where deadly foes and treasure await. It all fits with the old school feel, where grinding and patience is rewarded with coin, pearls and loot. What is also an excellent addition is cross save. Players who started their adventure on the PS3 or Vita can upload their save to the server and continue the adventure on the PS4. It doesn’t feature cross buy, however, meaning players will need to pay for the PS4 version.
Visually, the game is very nice to look at. It’s bright, colourful and adds it’s own flair. The characters designs did need some more work on them, but their portraits are nicely designed. There was a disconnect between the sprite’s look and the portrait. It didn’t feel right. Monster designs were hit and miss but the environments were nice to look at. The soundtrack, however, is absolutely stunning. The tracks were a joy to listen to during the long walks across the land. What made the sound design a little bit quirky was the soundbytes spoken by the NPCs before and after the text conversation. It was a nice touch.
It may be lacking an interesting story and memorable characters, but Rainbow Moon excels in combat, visuals and music. It’s wonderful to see a combat system that is very easy to learn and understand, yet offer so much in terms of strategy and tactical awareness. Further aided with purchasing items and gear, using Rainbow Pearls to beef up stats and enhancing gear, the combat system is satisfying and fun to play with. Put in an crisp, bright art style, an excellent soundtrack and a cheap price and you’ll have a game that’s worth the time and money to invest in. It’s definitely worth picking up if you’re into old school or tactical RPGs. Bring on Rainbow Skies.
Rainbow Moon is developed by SideQuest Studios and published by eastasiasoft. Eastasiasoft have provided a PlayStation 4 copy of the game for the purpose of this review. It’s available on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita for AU$19.45 and the PlayStation 4 for AU$22.95.